9th October – 2nd November 2019
Shaelene Murray’s figurative sculptures speak of society, history, experience and nostalgia. By re-contextualizing materials and processes from industry and the domestic sphere, Murray explores archetypes of femininity, and the roles which women play in the context of social and domestic life.
Kin explores the complex familial relationships that emerge in the contentious arena of the home front. “Toddle,” “Mamma,” “Bubbie" and “Scallywag” are arranged as characters in tableaux, allowing sculptural gesture and negative space to interact, absurd snippets of narrative to emerge. In this story, “Mamma” adorned in an armour of stainless steel, may be viewed as the protagonist in the story line, the personalities of the other characters emerge in contrast to her frumpy, authoritarian figure.
The long history of women sewing is given great reverence in Murray’s work. By amalgamating industrial materials such as stainless steel, which hold connotations of masculine work, and techniques derived from traditionally feminine crafts such as sewing; the artist positions familiar objects in unfamiliar contexts, evoking notions of the uncanny. For Murray, this material juxtaposition asserts that “strength and fragility can co-exist, [and] that women are stronger and more complex than the labels given to them by society.” In re-contextualising and personifying remnants of the domestic sphere ‘Kin’ constructs a portrait of the complexities of family life and acknowledges both the beneficial and indifferent legacies, of the women who “cut and sew the fabric of our lives.”
Murray’s practice relies on the synthesis of material and subject matter; choosing “materials and processes
for the readings they impart, and the emotional response they trigger.” Each work is born of a single strand of stainless-steel wire; twisted and folded into the desired ply and looped together stitch by stitch; imbuing the metal with a physical tension and memory. The material is then manipulated and hand-stitched, the components neatly sewn into a piece of clothing. Murray equates the slow and intimate nature of her process with mimicking the slow formation of personality. Through personality imbued stitch by stitch into the piece, the minute detail; laughing or crying, the concept of familial complexity is reiterated.